tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 8, 2017 11:30pm-12:01am PST
>> good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight as we meet, donald trump's unfounded claim that he was wiretapped at trump tower by president obama flips around like a fish out of water. republicans in the congress refuse to pick it up off the floor and put it out of its misery or throw it back where it came from. and since friday, president trump has offered zero evidence to back up that absurd accusation. instead, his people say congress should investigate. here's sean spicer today. >> is the president the target of a counterintelligence investigation? >> i think that's what we need to find out. part of the reason that we have asked the house and senate to look into this is because of that. the concern that the president has, and why me asked the senate and house intelligence subcommittees, to look into this, is to get to the bottom of what may or may not have
occurred during the 2016 election. >> the president said he was tapped. >> i understand that. that's why -- no, no, that's not what i said. what i said was that -- hold on. >> he said he was a target of an investigation, that his wires were tapped. >> one at a time. i said the president made clear on sunday he has asked the house and the senate intelligence committees to use their resources and their processes to examine the facts and come to a conclusion. >> that's not what he asked, what you asked, sean. he said the president wiretapped him. anyway, the charge worthy of a third-world troublemaker that somebody wiretapped him under mines the cent of the american democratic system and certainly the peaceful transfer of power between presidents in this country. republicans in the congress have a responsibility to say, aye or nay. congressman devin nunes and senator richard burr issued sort of swish she statements saying their committees, "will make inquiries or will follow the
evidence." senators lindsey graham and sheldon whitehouse, however, who lead a judiciary subcommittee sent a letter to that department today asking about any wiretapping warrants against the trump campaign. good for them. senator graham said today the country needs answers on this. let's watch him. >> president trump claims that president obama administration targeted his campaign, trump tower, in the tweet. i have no knowledge of that, but he's challenged the congress to help him so let's help. not trying to compromise classified information. not trying to compromise an investigation. the question is, has there ever been a warrant issued? this is a major deal for the country. i want to get to the bottom of it. >> he knows what he's talking about. what's at stake is the reputation of the u.s. country -- of america, you might say. the president accused the u.s. government under his predecessor of tapping his phones. wow. well, senator tim kaine said today that kind of behavior coming from the white house has its effect. let's watch. >> so that he's saying he was wiretapped or that his, you
know, inaugural crowd was bigger than it was. it shouldn't surprise us, but it is shocking. you don't want to see that behavior in the president. i've wanted congress to up its game in the previous administration and we definitely have to up our game in this one because, you know, our citizens and folks around the world, they've got to see some adult behavior. they're not seeing it out of the white house right now. >> joining me, senator chris murphy of connecticut, member of the foreign relations committee. senator, i know you hear this, i'm hearing it from my family, i'm hearing it from paul today in rwanda. countries all around the world that look up to us, even if they're left, right or center or corrupt or clean, they do look up to the united states as a good model for how to run a democracy. representative democracy. and they're changing their minds now. yesterday, in the paper today, this is rwanda talking, rwanda, saying they're no longer going to look to the west because we don't know how to run a country anymore. family members over in vietnam hearing the same thing from the communists. it's unbelievable what this president is doing with this wiretapping nonsense.
>> yeah, listen, this isn't the cold war where you only have two suitors, soviet model and american model, right? you have lot of people who are affectionate for the alliance of free agents today whether it be russia, china, whether it be brazil. the united states isn't a very attractive ally any longer so this really does have consequences for us as we're trying to build alliances, we're trying to build coalitions around the world to fight extremists, to fight challenges like global warming. we can't do that if people feel embarrassed to be associated with the united states. you combine that with the fact that the state department has essentially been neutered, eviscerated by this administration thus far and watching in real time as america and america's image withdraws from the world. >> do you know any republican senator or member of the house who's a republican, any party member of any party who believes the president believes he was wiretapped, who even believes he believes it? >> i don't think anybody knows
exactly what donald trump believes and what he doesn't believe. i think what's scary to many republicans is that they've had the opportunity to walk this back and they're putting not only the presidency and the reputation of the presidency, but the reputation of the entire country at risk, the longer that this floats out there. the reality is is congress can ask the department of justice as to whether there's a wiretap, but if there's an active investigation, the department of justice may not tell us, so its difficult to get to the bottom of this -- >> what do you mean, an active investigation -- wait a minute. let's narrow this down. >> sure. >> you're saying if they wire -- if -- who? what active -- i'm talking about the schism question, did president obama order a wiretap on candidate trump? there's -- what active investigation would that be? would involve that? you mean if there's an active investigation as to what his role was with the russians, you mean? >> no. correct. i don't think there's any doubt the covert agents or department of justice could answer the question as to whether or not president obama ordered it.
the question of whether there is a wiretap or was a wiretap, that's something that congress often asks and doesn't get answers. >> okay. here's a reaction, by the way, senator john mccain to the president's charge. >> i think that the president of the united states who has stated categorically that trump tower was wiretapped, that he should come forward with the information that led him to that conclusion. it's a very serious charge against the previous president of the united states. >> well senator mccain, i think, is from the sane era of politics. here's how some other top republicans reacted including senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and chair of the senate and house intelligence committees. >> i think we have an existing committee, the intelligence committee, looking at all aspects of what may have been done last year related to the russians or the campaigns and we'll leave it there. >> have you seen any evidence of that?
>> mr. leader -- >> no, i haven't. >> we don't have anything today that would send us in that direction, but that's not to say that we might not find something. >> i have not seen that evidence. as you know, i think a lot of that was maybe a little bit -- the multiple tweets were perhaps a little bit strung together. as you all know, the president is a neophyte to politics. he's been doing this a little over a year. and i think a lot of the things that he says, you guys sometimes take literally. sometimes he doesn't have 27 lawyers and staff looking at what he does. >> what do you make of that? that's a cover? that's explaining a guy's behavior? it's like he's -- he's treating the president as if he's in a crib and wants his pacy. he talks about him like he doesn't know what a tweet is. he knows how to tweet better than all of us. he gets up at 6:00 and does it. he accused the previous
president of wiretapping him. there's nothing complicated about this. why doesn't mr. nunes, chairman of the committee, call up the fbi director, said was anybody asked for a fisa warrant on this? did anybody ask permission to wire this guy or not? end it. this is going to float out there for months and years. >> yeah, listen. i wouldn't tweet my 8-year-old like that. the fact is we would hope that an adult would occupy the oval office and we wouldn't expect a team of 27 lawyers around him to decide whether he should falsely accuse the previous president of the united states of tapping his phones. that's a ridiculous standard. and in the end, yeah, it is pretty simple to get to the answer to this question. there is no evidence that barack obama tapped donald trump's phones because it didn't happen. and republicans right now could ask the questions necessary to get at least that answer. maybe we won't know if the fbi was or is investigating trump, but we can get the answer to that question, republicans can. >> okay. thank you very much, senator chris murphy of connecticut. well, there was troubling
reporting in the "the new york times" today about president trump's mood swings last weekend. according to "the times," he was in high spirits after he fired off the posts, those tweets but midafternoon after returning from golf, he appeared to realize he had gone too far with his tweets although he still believed mr. obama had wiretapped him according to two people in trump's orbit. in some conversations that afternoon, the president sounded uncertain of the procedure for obtaining a warrant for secret wiretaps on an american citizen so he didn't know how you would do it but said obama did it. anyway, meanwhile, we're getting reaction on former president obama's reaction to the news. according to nbc, our network, a source close to him, told nbc news, mr. obama rolled his eyes. and the "wall street journal" report, he was livid over the accusation that he bugged the republican campaign offices believing mr. trump was questioning both the integrity of the office of the president
and mr. obama, himself. of course, he was. i'm joined by "the wall street journal's" carol lee who wrote that article. and the "washington post's" phil rucker who's been all over this thing. carol, did you notice the way that this young, relatively young member of congress, nunes from california, i don't know much about the guy, treating the president like he's a little baby. you know, he gets a little upset once in a while, says things he really shouldn't and doesn't have the help of advisers like lawyers around him so he does things that really don't make much sense, but we shouldn't blame him because he's a neophyte. he's a neophyte. >> yeah. there's definitely -- >> that's a defense. that's what a criticism looks like. >> there's -- that's the republicans -- the republicans -- >> why are so they -- >> they're grading him on a curve. >> they're helping him hide. by the way, boehner, when trump was running around saying obama was an illegal immigrant from kenya, people asked him, tell your fellow members it's not true, he said i don't tell them how to think. this is the way they behave in
the republican party today. they're so intimidated by this guy, trump, that they just cover for him. your thoughts. >> well, i think, yeah, the republicans don't want to get crossways with the president. >> why? >> they also -- >> why are they afraid of him? >> because they have things they would like to actually get done in congress and don't want to pick a fight with the president. and they also are taking -- they're aligning with the white house in terms of the cleanup of this where you have the white house saying, well, we don't -- look at it, we'll look into it pane, you know, congress, take a look -- >> they'll look into it. >> what happened, more importantly, what the democrats are doing, this winds up being a gift to them because you have people like schiff saying we're going to oblige him on his request, look into this. the white house is going to wind up getting all the things they didn't really want like hearings on this. and a further investigation into this. >> congress loves hearings. let's face it. they go on and on and on, get on tv, on and on and on.
when do they get to a conclusion? >> a big one on march 20th. >> when you talk to white house officials as we were doing this week, this is the last thing they want to talk about. want to be talking about health care, tax reform, about angela merkel's visit next week, about all these other issues and stuck having -- >> how long have you been around? let me ask you a question about having to get flak for the president. i thought about what kind of job that would be, i think it would be a very difficult job. people like josh earnest know how to do the job well. it's doable. i've never seen a press secretary have to deal with a president that's saying stuff he or she doesn't believe. i mean, really. spicer has -- ever since the crowd measurements back in january 20 -- he had to lie for the president which is a terrible word to do, but he had to do it. had to say, oh, yeah, 3 million to 4 million out there and all this. this time around he doesn't want to do that. he's saying, i'm telling you what the president says.
then somebody asked yesterday, do you believe him? he said, that's a cute question. it's not a cute question. you ask the president's spokesperson if he or she believes what the president is saying. it's a reasonable question. >> he has really distanced himself from that, it's interesting to watch. he said, you know, if you ask him, what do you think? he says it doesn't matter what you think. >> it does matter. >> we -- >> he says it's above my pay grade. that's a tired old line. you're the spokesman for the white house. it's not above your pay grade. >> it's your job. he got into the job. decided to be the -- >> he doesn't want to have his career ruined, i can tell. he's pulling away from trump. he is not lying for him. >> this is a pattern in donald trump's life, he inserts things that are not necessarily true, tries to find evidence for it. coming up, the rolling disclosure on the trump connection continues. former campaign manager, cory lewandowski gave carter page leave to go to moscow last summer. we'll get to everything we know about trump's relationship with russia, next. this is "hardball" where the action is. my hygienist told me .
can you say that anyone had contact with the russians. >> nobody that i know of. >> during the course of the election. >> how many times do i have to answer if this question? russia is a ruse. i have nothing to do with russia. to the best of my knowledge, no person that i deal with was. >> welcome to "hardball." last month, president trump denied that anyone in his campaign, as you just saw, had any contacts with russia during the election. but in making that statement, the president directly contradicted the word of russia's deputy foreign minister who said just days after the election that, "there were contacts during the campaign." we now know that three members of trump's national security advisory committee, senator jeff sessions, j.d. gordon, carter page, all spoke with the russian ambassador during the campaign.
additionally just before the republican convention, carter page traveled to moscow where he delivered a commencement address -- ken vogel of politico reports, "page e-mailed campaign manager corey lewandowski and spokeswoman asking for formal approval for the trip and told by lewandowski he would make a trip to moscow but not as an official representative of the campaign." corey lewandowski telling politico "i don't remember that, i probably got a thousand e-mails at that time and don't remember every single one i sent. i wouldn't necessarily remember if i had a one-word response to him saying he would do something as a private citizen." page left the campaign in september. trump campaign officials later distanced themselves from him. late today a source close to former utah governor jon huntsman tells nbc news that huntsman was offered and has accepted the position to be the next u.s. ambassador of russia. joined by u.s. congressman joaquin castro of texas, serves on the house select committee on intelligence. also here, ken vogel who wrote the story, chief investigative reporter for politico. congressman, you're in there and i guess my question is, we know an awful lot thanks to the 17
intelligence agencies about the way russia wanted hillary to lose and if it could be really lucky, get trump to win. how they wanted to undermine our democracy. that's all on the record. we also have a lot of other things on the record. how trump romanced or bromanced the russians all through the campaign. said wonderful things about their little instrument called wikileaks, said wonderful things about vladimir putin, about everything over there, how he's going to be their allies in the world against isis, et cetera, et cetera. seems to me a lot of information is out there about the symbiotic relationship between trump and the russians. what do you know more, or can you hint at where you think this story's going? >> you know, chris, insaid very clearly as have others on this committee, we need to get to the bottom of one question. did any americans conspire with the russians who interfered with our 2016 presidential election? and specifically, did anyone associated with the trump campaign help those who interfered with the 2016 presidential election? when we keep seeing more and more connections between trump advisers, at least coming out in reports, these trump advisers
and the russians. and so, of course, this just speaks to how important the investigation is. >> well, doesn't the -- i mean, my experience over the years is the fbi, as part of our counterintelligence effort in this country, which all other countries have, they have all kinds of electronic wiretaps and information like, electronic communication, involving the russian ambassador and officials who look like they might be under cover. why don't we get that information out? when's it going to come? the information. the nsa's got it, the cia's got it, certainly the fbi. what's the wait for? >> that's a great question. you know, i've been critical of the pace of the investigation at least in the house committee. i said last week there is a gap between what the intelligence agencies know and what the committee has been told. adam schiff, the democratic ranking member, has essentially said the same thing.
so i'm with you on that. i think we should be moving in a brisker pace. you see there's a few hearings on this issue that have now been scheduled and publicly announced. and so hopefully we're going to start moving at a quicker pace because all americans deserve an answer to these questions and getting to the bottom of it really is fundamental to our democracy. when we return, finish with trump watch. this is "hardball" where the action is.
trump watch. wednesday march 8, 017. we have a man in the white house who thinks nothing, thinks nothing, i'm speaking nastily and outrageously about his predecessor. and why not? he called the republican speaker of the house said it wasn't his job to tell people how to think. and calling the former president
a criminal, no leader is willing to come autoand throw water on the president's fish story. this isn't about how big his hands are or how many people he can see in the washington mall or illegal voters were out there last november. it's about truth and untruth. the truth that the russians helped him win the election. untruth that president obama had him bugged. buried up tr. he didn't get away it because he blew the whistle and sent him back to the courts and ran him out of politics. to take his bugging accusation and stauf it back where he got it. that's hardball for now. thanks for being with us. join me again tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern, see you then. tonight on "all in" -- >> we are out in full sell mode
tonight on "all in" -- >> we are out in full sell mode all around the country. >> a white house in sell mode raises the stakes. >> i'm just raised the stakes. >> tonight, as defectors grow, can president trump close the deal on a health care plan that hospitals, seniors, and now doctors oppose? plus -- >> this will be a plan, you can
use your plan and you know what the plan is, this is the plan. >> a compelling case that trumpcare will hurt trump voters most. with senator bernie sanders. then -- >> there is no reason that we have to think that the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever. another deluge of questions over the president's baseless wiretap claims with former cia director michael hayden. and trump protests return on international women's day. >> you know what? the women get it better than we do folks. >> as the president dines with the cruz family. >> heidi cruz is coming through and i'm wondering if the plans has to apologize to her? >> well "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york, i'm chris hayes, president trump is, in the words of his press secretary, in full sell mode trying to push what many in his own party think is a bad product on skeptical buyers. he's already done it with trump steaks,